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IDF Eviction Refusal More Widespread Than Reported

The Duchifat Battalion soldiers who were sent to Hevron after some of their comrades refused also conducted another sort of refusal.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 8/9/2007, 2:11 PM

The bus driver of the Duchifat Battalion soldiers who were sent to Hevron after some of their comrades refused told the story of the group’s growing ire at the situation.

The unreported story emerged Wednesday of the fate of the rest of the Duchifat Battalion who did not refuse orders and boarded the bus to Hevron to provide security for the eviction.

The bus, having been blocked by parents and activists both in the Jordan Valley and in Gush Etzion, was once again blocked by activists and residents at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. They stood in the road and refused to move. Border Police Commander Raphael Ben David, stationed in Shechem but in Hevron by chance, stopped his vehicle and, together with his driver, tried to disperse the protesters by force.

When he saw that he was not succeeding, the officer boarded the bus of Duchifat soldiers and asked that the soldiers and officers disembark and assist him. “Instead of complying, nearly all the soldiers on the bus began to yell at him that they had no intention of helping him because they are not taking part in the evacuation, and that he has no right to disperse the demonstrators on his own, and they refuse to help him,” the bus driver later told Chaim Cohen, part of a group of activists from Givatayim who came to oppose the eviction.

“They soon threw the Border Police officer off of the bus. He exited, clearly humiliated, and once again began struggling with the demonstrators – this time using clear violence. Bystanders said he grabbed the wrist of a mother-of-12 and flipped her over. She landed on her shoulder and was badly bruised.”

Meanwhile, bystanders reported that the soldiers on the bus made makeshift signs expressing support, displaying them through the bus’s side windows.

Cohen, part of a group of activists calling themselves the “Givatayim Settlers” (Givatayim is a notoriously leftist suburb of Tel Aviv), said the bus driver approached him later in the day and asked where he could find a tour of Hevron, as he had never been there before. Cohen obliged and relayed the story that the driver, who was clearly impressed, told him.

Maariv: Public Refuser Only Tip of the Iceberg

The Maariv daily, in its front-page story Wednesday, reported that "hundreds of soldiers refused and were reassigned to washing dishes, cleaning tents or helping in the mess hall by their commanders - out of the sites of the cameras." The report stated that the soldiers who objected to taking part in the Hevron eviction were not just religious hesder students, but many others as well.

Posters, Leaflets Praise Soldiers’ Refusal
The Committee For Saving the Nation and the Land, a Chabad-run activist group, has posted fliers across the country and will distribute them in synagogues this Sabbath proclaiming: “'That excel in strength, that do his commandments' These soldiers are worthy of being written up in gold in the history of the people of Israel as heroes of Israel. With your actions you shall save the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria and save the people of Israel from all who seek to destroy it."

The group is planning a large rally in support of the soldiers.

Campaign of SMS Support
Supporters of the refusers have published the names and phone numbers of some of the soldiers, encouraging supporters to send them text messages letting them know that there are people who believe they did the right thing. All numbers can be dialed from outside Israel by dropping the first zero and replacing it with 011 972:

* Chaim Cohen, Duchifat commander from Gush Katif: 054 568 4882
* Maor Cohen, Duchifat commander from Ofakim: 052 470 3670
* Netanel : 0547-669.399
* Meir Buzaglo: 050 859 2905
* Nati Abugani: 054 766 4399
* Sgt. David Sayad: 052 536 0636